How to Achieve Happiness as a Grants Professional: Be Grateful and Adjust Expectations

If social capital and not income or commodities is the most important source of happiness and life satisfaction for grants professionals, then I think we need to re-examine the way we work and live.

Below are two recommendations for achieving a measure of happiness inside the workplace.  They are based on the simple premise that money does not buy hap­piness, but living comfortably is conducive to a sense of well-being.

Grants professionals wear nice clothes and live in nice houses and apartments.  They drive cars that usually start in the morning, and they have jobs that are meaningful to them and of value to their organizations.  For this they should be intensely grateful and appreciative.

The amount of commodities we have ac­cumulated is not as great a predictor of hap­piness as is our attitude about them.  If we constantly desire more, we always will be frustrated, disappointed, and unhappy.  If you want to compare yourself to those around you, the best way to adjust your expectations is look at those below you and not at the peo­ple above.

This is not a plea for voluntary poverty or passivity in the workplace.  To the contrary, I think that many grants professionals are grossly underpaid and grossly undervalued for the many important services they perform.  Nevertheless, grants professionals also should be grateful for the careers they are forging.

According to the In­ternal Revenue Service, in 2010 real median household income in the US was $49,777, which is only slightly higher than the 1990 figure.  Over 43 million Americans now fall into the poverty category, nearly 1 out of 7 Americans.

Over 40 million families are now receiving food assistance, an all-time record high.  Roughly an equal number are without health insurance.  And the unemployment/underemployment rate in close to 20 percent.

Grants profes­sionals should not ignore the fact that many of them are underpaid and overworked, but they are living or can expect to live solid middle-class lives, and for that they should be deeply thankful in today’s dire economy.

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